No matter where you are in your interior design journey, you can learn how to create a neutral living room that’s a true blank slate. Get inspired with these ideas and tips!
Even though we haven’t lived in our current home for very long, our great room has evolved from a blank and cold area into a cozy and inviting space. When we moved in, I wasn’t sure what to call it…living room or great room? I settled on great room, but I slip all the time and call it our living room! Either way, it’s our main living space, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the transformation unfold.
At the end of the post, you’ll find links to two more evolution stories. My Wishlist friends, Yvonne and Lory, are both empty nesters like me, and we have all moved out of our family homes into something more manageable. Make sure you click over and see what they are sharing.
A Neutral Palette
Let’s take a look back at what our living room on Sutton Place looked like. Because it was also decorated with neutrals and shades of beige, all of our existing decor fit seamlessly into our new home. The sofa and tufted chairs, the throw pillows, our coffee table and end tables. Almost everything in the old living room made the move to the new space.
Two exceptions were the antique dresser that landed in the entry, and the blue cabinet that now fits beautifully in our toilet room. There’s a niche in the wall, and the cabinet fits perfectly!
Where To Start?
Decorating with neutral colors is the perfect way to begin…if you aren’t sure where to begin. A few years ago, I shared my journey from a color scheme that featured bright and vivid tones, to a neutral look that was assembled with layers and texture. It was a slow journey, but I learned something new with each step.
What Is The Purpose of Neutral Colors
So when we moved, I gathered together everything I learned at the house on Sutton Place, and applied it to the new house. My main purpose for decorating with a neutral color palette was to provide a space with calmness and warmth. I wanted a neutral backdrop, so I could add colorful accents and seasonal accessories. The images above and below show what our great room looked like right after we closed.
Choosing The Right White
Our great room is big and very open to the kitchen, so I knew I wanted the walls to be the same color throughout. The first step was choosing the right paint color. I went to our local Sherwin-Williams store and got samples of every “white” shade that was available. I taped them to the walls in various places, and made sure to check them at different times of the day.
I thought it was going to be a very hard choice, but in the end, there was only one color that worked with the kitchen cabinets. The color is Snowbound, and it’s a crisp, warm white with slight grey undertones. I was relieved the choice was so easy!
Snowbound not only works well with the kitchen cabinets, but it looks beautiful with the grey hexagon tile around the fireplace. We used a satin finish on the walls, and semi-gloss on the trim. We painted the ceiling bright white, which helps to lighten the room even more.
How Do You Make A Neutral Room Cozy?
Add Wood Tones
Using wood tones in neutral living rooms breaks up the sea of beige, and gives the eye someplace to rest as it travels around the room. Before we moved in, I wasn’t sure about the stairway banister that is stained a dark mahogany with black wrought iron spindles. I considered painting the wood, but I’m really glad I waited. Once our furniture was in place, the wood tones of the tables instantly made the banister make sense.
Add Depth with Rugs, Textiles, and Natural Materials
The biggest step in our great room transformation was when the rug was laid, and the furniture was put in place. I felt such relief when this blank room began to look like home! Sprinkling linen pillows around, adding flowers and greenery, and generally warming the space up was fun and satisfying.
Vary The Hues
Even though we have all neutral furniture, there are several different shades. The hues begin with white, they deepen to beige, and there’s even a hint of taupe. I love to add baskets and pieces like our rattan stool that bring in texture and interest.
What Colors Go Well With Neutrals?
My accent color is, of course, blue…but because this room has a neutral base, I can literally add any color in the rainbow. Golds and russets in the fall, or shades of red for Christmas, will fit in seamlessly. I can add pinks and peaches, or different tones of green. There are no limitations when you are working with a neutral space. The accent color, or colors, is where you bring in your own personal style. Use colors that you love, and that make you happy when you walk in the room.
There are two things that happened well after we moved in that made a big difference in the feel of our great room. The first was the addition of the etagere on the big sofa wall. I looked and looked, and finally found one that combined wood tones with black metal. I had built-in shelves on Sutton Place, and I underestimated how much I would miss them, so adding a shelving unit made the space feel even more like home.
The second thing was the installation of plantation shutters on all the windows. I love the uniform look that they lend to any home, and they are completely functional and practical. I don’t have plans to add drapery panels, which I know may surprise you! We enjoy the clean and crisp way the shutters finish off the windows, and don’t feel the need to add anything else.
The “finishing touches” that are added to a room after the furniture is in place are what brings in your style and personality. Use items that you love, and that reflect your family. Add color if that’s what you like, or keep things neutral. Either way, your neutral background allows you to follow your heart in any direction. You will never be limited or held back by colors that dictate your decor.
Neutral color schemes are easy to live with. Like most of you, I like to change accessories, and move things around. All of these neutral living room ideas make doing that so simple. So is this room finished? Definitely not! It will evolve as our lifestyle changes, and as our family grows.
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Click any image below to be taken directly to the product listing. Every effort has been made to provide sources for the items found in this post. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
Now it’s time to send you along to see what Yvonne and Lory have to share. We look forward to sharing more evolving spaces in the months to come.